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Self-talk – I will permit fear to pass through me and let it subside. I was thinking about how challenging this water sport of foil surfing can be while standing under the silver sunlight on the surfer’s paradise – Montauk.

Being a water sports enthusiast but a tyro in foil surfing, I decided to surf this easternmost point of New York, hence, avoiding any bigger surf spots, while humming this tune in my head:

I ain’t worried ’bout it right now

Swimmin’ in the floods, dancing on the clouds below

I ain’t worried ’bout it

Hey homies, hydrofoil surfing is a new hit in the world of surfing. While traditional surfing allows you to cut through the waters, foil surfing advocates hover over the water like an aircraft. Being the future of watersports, foils are staking a claim to the previously perceived unrideable waves. Well, don’t we love the thrill of the chase?

Read on to learn about what really is foiling and how it adds a whole new dimension to the watersports world.


What Is Foiling in Surfing?

Foiling refers to the phenomenon of lifting the foil boards clear of the water through a hydrofoil attached to its hull. This water sport replaces the traditional surfboard plastic fins with a hydrodynamically designed fin, thus, expanding your freedom ride and rise.

A hydrofoil is a large metal fin with wings that works similarly to an aerofoil that is used in airplanes to direct airflow under the wings. Likewise, hydrofoil also creates pressure underneath the board to lift the board up and out of the water.

Now, as it levitates above the water, it eliminates any contact between the foil surfboard and the water. In response to that, the rider encounters less drag in comparison to the traditional surfing style.

It also mitigates the effects of the wind, which helps in the reduction of friction. Not to mention, this fun board is unaffected by rough conditions. Bingo!

How Does It Work?

The functionality of the hydrofoil board is totally different from any traditional surfing board. Hydrofoil board tends to react to the water instead of getting any assistance from it for progression while surfing.

As the foil makes its way through the water, it just deflects the flow, which in return exerts some force on the foil. That exerted water pressure must be of greater intensity in order to lift the board. Hence, foil surfers need to move fast and push the foil surfboard in order to enjoy more lift.

Pumping refers to weight shifting that you do with your feet. With different weight distribution and body positions, you can control the foil board just like a pilot of the plane. This repetitive manner of shifting weight from one foot to another produces a rhythmic movement and propels the foil board.

Being a seasoned surfer, I can surely say one thing that you can surf more efficiently if you get to understand one prime principle; the more you put force on your back foot, the more the wing will create lift while tilting upright. On the contrary, if you do otherwise by putting force on your front foot, the more the wing will dive underwater.

As far as the stance is concerned, place your traction pads exactly where your feet should be and set yourself in a squat stance. Now, the key to balance is to place your one foot over the mast, a mast is a rectangular bar that connects the hydrofoil to the board with the help of a connector plate.

foiling on water

What Equipment Do You Need?

Besides an impact vest, a wetsuit, surfboard, and surf foil itself, you need a better understanding of the mechanics of hydrofoil. A surf foil consists of four major parts: mast, fuselage, front wing, and stabilizer.

A mast is a rectangular bar attached perpendicularly to the board, it connects the hydrofoil to the board with the help of a connector plate. The other end of the mast connects to the fuselage. The fuselage has itself connected to the front wings which rest parallel to the board, and a stabilizer (rear wings).

The quality of wings being parallel to the board make possible good control over the foil board only by pressing feet. The large front wing possesses a curved top and a flatter bottom. It has a rounded leading edge with thin trailing edges at the sides. While the rear ring is small and rests horizontally.  

Types of Foiling

Traditional surfing is now facing a hard time dealing with its upgraded cousins. There are a variety of different types of fun foiling, though all possess similar designs. Let’s have a look!

  • Wind Foiling

This popular watersport is like a hybrid between regular surfing and windsurfing, with its major emphasis on navigation. In this sport, surfers use a large inflatable wing, hold it in their hands and navigate through the waters while standing on the surf foil board. In this sport, while the wing helps you to navigate, the surf foil lets you surf swiftly.

foiling on water
  • Kite Foiling

Hydrofoil kiteboarding is all about foiling while kitesurfing. The foil attached under the board allows you to kite along the ocean and above the surface of the water, while you hold onto the leash attached to the wind wing.

The most important and critical thing is the leash of your kite. Kite leashes provide much-needed safety, so the foil surfer needs to hold on to the leash very firmly in order to stay connected to the kite.

sailing foils
  • Wake Foiling

It is quite different from wakeboarding or wake surfing. While the board is being towed behind the boat in wake surfing, in wake foiling, the foil lets your cruise in the wake of the boat without being towed always.

Wake foils are designed to be ridden at comparatively higher speeds than surf-style foils. Owing to this fact, most wake-style boards will start off foiling at speeds of 8 to 10 MPH and higher.

  • Surf Foiling

A hybrid of surfing and hydrofoil technology, foil surfing removes the traditional fins of the surfing board and replaces them with a long blade that extends down into the water. Though surf-style foils are made to be ridden at a bit slower speeds than wake foils, believe me, they let you surf swiftly and enable you to cover long distances in less time.

Less time waiting, more time surfing! You may not need bigger waves to come and let you enjoy your surfing journey. You can even literally ride any type of wave you want. Foil surfing is an outstanding experience that allows happy effortless gliding over all kinds of waters.

water foiling

What Is the Appeal of Foil Surfing?

The good news is, in order to surf you need not wait for the waves to come. You can surf anything! Yes, foil surfing allows offshore surf breaks and easy access to new waves as the size of the waves become irrelevant while foil surfing. You can ride waves of different nature whether small waves or big waves or may even multiple waves.

Moreover, the attached hydrofoil beneath the board lets you surf more efficiently. And how is that? The hydrofoil is a fucking game changer. As the entire board is out of any pressure of water, unlike regular surfing, the rider won’t have to face any resistance or friction.

Is Foil Surfing Dangerous?

Foiling can be difficult starting out but any surfer can learn to foil. What makes foil surfing difficult is the foil itself and your inadequate surfing experience.

Firstly, to get the hang of it, the best way is to find a spot with small waves first. And if you are very new to surfing yet desire to foil surf, some experience from a jet ski or a boat may help you learn the basics.

Secondly, one must understand the reason why foils are referred to as blades. It is because these are large in size, made in metal instead of plastic, and have sharp trailing edges. This blade can cut you easily if you accidentally kick it. So you need to work towards your safety yourself.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the greatest advantage of foiling is that it is very much efficient in terms of riding waves and catching waves. Without having you worn out, this exciting sport offers a much longer ride than the regular surfboard.

Experienced foil surfers sometimes surpass the 300 to 400-yard mark in each ride only by learning to pump the board. Now that you have got an idea of foiling, how it works, and what is its appeal, decide for yourself if you want to commit yourself to it or not.

Happy surfing daredevils!

Categories: Surfing


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